We work with a wide range of educational product and service providers, large and small, from textbook companies to technology vendors to online service providers. As with our school clients, the vendors who come to us are usually looking for strategic advice about how to respond to the rapidly changing market. We help them gain perspective on how and how quickly these changes are likely to affect them and help them to formulate practical responses.
Some of the services we have provided to our vendor clients recently include the following:
Product Strategy Review
Sometimes our clients need a second opinion on the approach they plan to take to solve a customer problem. Maybe there are changes in the market that they are worried will impact how their product is received. Or maybe there is internal disagreement about the best strategy. In these cases, we will talk to their customers and internal stakeholders, review the product, and combine those inputs with our knowledge of the market to provide the clients with feedback. This feedback will explain how well aligned the different parts of the company are regarding the strategy, how well their idea of the product fits with their customers’ perceptions, what the biggest market opportunities and threats are, and how they can best position their offering competitively.
Digital Product Management
In some cases, our clients are technologists who are trying to better understand the needs of teachers and students. In other cases, they are textbook publishers who are used to building digital products only as add-ons and are struggling to develop born-digital products that will excite their customers. Drawing on the lean startup and agile software development methodologies, we help our clients become more effective at developing products that their customers will love.
Go-to-Market and Partnership Planning
Because of the nature of the educational technology market, a lot of small and mid-sized companies depend for their success on being able to foster healthy partnerships with the large textbook companies or LMS or ERP vendors. We help our clients understand the needs and goals of their prospective partners, identify the best prospective partners for them, develop their products in ways that would be most appealing to those partners, and then negotiate a successful partnership.
Cultural Change Management
Sometimes it’s not the leadership but the folks working in the trenches who need to better understand the changes in the industry and how it effects them. It might be salespeople who are used to talking to technologist and now suddenly have to justify their product’s value to the academic side of the university leadership. It might be editors who need to learning the ins and outs of developing content for a shared technology platform. Or it might be technologists who are suddenly having to take competing feature demands from different parts of the organization. Our clients sometimes ask us to help their people both understand the big changes in the environment that are driving changes to the business and adapt to those changes with new business processes.